Hispanic Heritage Month and Early 20th Century Photos from the Rio Grande Valley

Photo of two men sitting, one is painting a portrait of a native woman.
Brownsville, two men sitting, one painting, undated, 1964/263-49, Harry Lund collection. TSLAC.

We celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with a look at a photograph collection from the Rio Grande Valley. The Harry Lund collection contains more than 200 photos from the Morales Studio depicting the people of the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) in the first half of the 20th century. The “RGV” developed along the borderlands of Mexico and the southernmost point of Texas, with the town of Brownsville serving as a hub of commerce and social activity. Though the individuals are mostly unidentified and photos undated, we are able to experience visually the lifestyle and culture of the region for a population of Hispanic Texans at the turn of the last century.

Photo of a man and five children standing in front of a two-story house. Also pictured is an automobile from the middle of the 20th century.
Brownsville, group in front of a house, undated, 1964/263-46, Harry Lund collection. TSLAC.

Photo of a one-story house with a small, fenced yard. Two girls stand in front of the fence and two men stand on the porch. The writing on the photo reads "Arnulfo Corcea Residence" and "Brownsville, Tex. 9/10."
Brownsville, Arnulfo Corcea residence, 1910, 1964/263-216, Harry Lund collection. TSLAC.

Photo of men with ox-drawn wagons filled with melons in a line down the street as far as is visible. About 12 count. The writing on the photo reads, "Waiting their turn to unload melons. Brownsville Texas, 6-16-19.
Brownsville, men waiting their turn to unload melons, 1919, 1964/263-160, Harry Lund collection. TSLAC.

Photo of posed family portrait with left to right a young girl seated, an older man with mustache seated, an adolescent girl standing, a woman seated, and an adolescent boy standing.
Brownsville, family portrait, undated, 1964/263-36, Harry Lund collection. TSLAC.

Photo of a social dance taking place in about 1929. Four couples are seen dancing while a group of onlookers, both sitting and standing, line one side of the open-air  hall.
Brownsville, ballroom scene, about 1929, 1964/263-127, Harry Lund collection. TSLAC.

Photo of an outdoor baptism ceremony taking place in a river or lake. About six individuals stand in waist-deep water while a larger group of people of all ages stand on the shore. Buildings and a water tower are visible in the background.
Brownsville, outdoor baptism ceremony, undated, 1964/263-185, Harry Lund collection. TSLAC.

A wedding party poses for a photo outside next to an early 20th-century model automobile and horse and buggy. Ten couples, including the bride and groom, are pictured.
Brownsville, unidentified wedding party, undated, 1964/263-10, Harry Lund collection. TSLAC.
Photo of Chamber of Commerce Band, Brownsville, Texas. Three rows of men in white uniforms holding various instruments stand on the steps in front of the building.
Brownsville, Chamber of Commerce band, undated, 1964/263-128, Harry Lund collection. Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Learn more about how to explore the Prints and Photographs Collections by visiting our research guide on the Archives & Reference website.